Emilia Clarke on S3
All in all I’ve enjoyed S3 but my biggest complaint remains that Daenerys’ storyline was reduced to moving from action point to action point, while the emotional heart of her story was basically cut. While ASOS is very much about Dany’s conquest of the slave cities of Essos, culminating in the moment when the free people of Yunkai call her Mhysa, (and ultimately, as we will see in S4, her decision to stay in Meereen and rule rather than let all her work be undone by the political unrest and economic collapse left in the wake of her conquest), her actions are very much informed by her own internal struggles and her relationships with her people.
In this interview, Emilia Clarke discusses how Dany suffers a loneliness caused by the weight of her power and her choices. While I would agree with her, this is very much an accurate description of Dany in the books, I’m not entirely sure S3 (or the series as a whole) really effectively demonstrates that. For one, the decision to cut Mirri Maz Duur’s line in the prophecy that Dany will never bear a living child deeply undercuts why Dany responds so to the slaves adopting her as Mhysa, so that all that remains is the slightly uncomfortable white savior image.
Clarke seems to imply that Dany’s lack of meaningful interaction with her friends and advisers was a conscious choice, meant to be the result of disagreement with her decisions. While this would reassure me that this wasn’t just an omission for the sake of time on the part of the writers or an over-simplication of her character, I don’t feel this this necessarily translated to screen (or gives us a full picture of who Dany is). We had that moment before Yunkai when Jorah expressed his opinion that Dany ought to leave well enough alone and take her Unsullied straight to Westeros, but after she said they had two hundred reasons to stay, he never really argued with her, nor did there appear to be any lingering tension between them. There was never enough interaction between them at all to really support that Dany was lonely for any other reason than she held herself aloof from everyone else. The same goes for Barristan, with whom she never interacted one-on-one after she accepted her into her service, except in the one scene in 3x9 where he didn’t even have any lines when he should have been telling her about Rhaegar (and her decision to take him in could have been a great point of conflict between her and Jorah), or with Missandei.
While I do realize that in all cases, there must be a line between Dany and her people, because she is the queen and they are in her service, her struggle with isolation and the blurring of lines is very much a present theme in ASOS (Jorah, for example, is the commander of her army, but she also calls him friend and brother—not to mention the romantic angle through which she filters his every word and deed from that point on, in no small part due to the also omitted prophecy about being betrayed for love) but I personally didn’t see a lot of evidence that anything was occurring on this emotional level as I viewed S3. And that’s a shame, since Dany is the one contender for the Iron Throne who is actually a POV character, and whose narrative deals on a deeply personal level just what the weight of a crown can do to a person.